Make your vacation rental as profitable as possible by optimizing your property’s online reviews. Many owners overlook the importance that online reviews play in securing bookings. Frequently, getting these reviews involves more than just waiting for your former guests to go online and give their opinion about your rental. As a vacation property owner, you’ll need to take certain steps to help make sure that your rental gets the reviews it needs to stand out online. We’ve put together an overview of how to best optimize the online reviews of your vacation rental so you can get more online exposure as well as more bookings.
Why Are Reviews Important?
There a couple of different roles that reviews play for your vacation home or condo. First off, the majority of consumers read reviews and most people trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends or family. Even more notable is the fact that about half of people won’t book a vacation rental that doesn’t have any reviews.
Not having any reviews goes on to complicate the matter even further by reducing your property’s online visibility. If you list your property on HomeAway or one of its sites, reviews will play a part in search results ranking.
These sites have a listing scorecard for each property. The higher the score, the better the search results ranking. To get the highest score in the review category, you’ll need at least 12 recent reviews.
Having good reviews on other sites, including TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google, will help to ensure that your property ranks well in search results. This will help your vacation home or condo to be seen by more people, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get more bookings.
First Steps to Optimizing Reviews
If you haven’t already, give your property a catchy name that’s easy to remember. This will play a big role in establishing your vacation rental brand. Then, you’ll need to get your vacation home or condo listed on both Google Maps and Bing Places. This way, if a potential guest searches for your property by name, it will show up on the map in search results. Also, if guests just happen to be looking at a map of your area, they may stumble across your map listing. Finally, with Google, any Google reviews are prominently displayed under the map that shows in search results.
Once you’ve completed these initial steps, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got your rental on all the major listing sites. This includes, HomeAway, airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Yelp. You should also set up a Facebook page for your vacation rental as well. Essentially, you want to ensure that your guests will have no problem finding a way to provide a review for your property. Having reviews on all the sites has another bonus as well – they show up prominently in search results. Furthermore, TripAdvisor reviews will show up underneath Bing and Yahoo map results.
Automate the Review Process
To make it easier for guests to give your property a review (and to remind them about leaving one), it’s best to set up an email that will be sent to them automatically shortly after their departure. This email doesn’t have to be anything anything fancy. You can simply thank them for staying in your property and ask them if they enjoyed their vacation. To answer this question, they can click on Yes or No.
The Yes link can take them to a page on your website that gives them all the options of where they can review your property (links to Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google, etc.) or it can link directly to any of these sites.
For Google reviews, we’ve found the Google Review Link Generator to be quite useful. However, this will only work if you have a Google map listing for your rental.
The No link should direct your guests to a form where they can provide their feedback on why they didn’t enjoy their stay. This will help to keep negative reviews off third-party sites while also giving your guests the chance to feel like their concerns are being heard. You can then take steps to communicate directly with them, address their complaints, and fix any issues that the guests came across during their stay.
Keep in mind that with this route, it’s better respond to those guests who did not enjoy their stay than to ignore them. If you don’t open that communication channel, you run the risk that your unhappy customer will go to a third-party site and publish their negative review for all to see and limiting your options to nip the issue in the bud.
Handling Negative Reviews
At one point or another, your property will get a bad review online. While it’s not ideal, it’s not necessarily disastrous either – as long as you handle it properly. Most owners’ first reaction to bad reviews is to get offended. Although that’s understandable, it’s also not a feeling you should be experiencing as you pen you response. You should respond to the review somewhat quickly but also give yourself plenty of time to think about your response (at least a day or two). Keep in mind that your response will live on the internet forever, so let that knowledge guide your wording. In addition, it will reflect your brand and can easily affect a potential guest’s decision to stay at your property.
Take objective look at their complaint. Is it something that you genuinely need to address (non-functioning appliances), something you can’t address (the condo pool is too far away), or something without merit (purely bogus claims)? With all that in mind, start by thanking them for their response and offering a sincere apology (even if it’s just that you’re sorry they didn’t enjoy their stay). Continue by acknowledging their complaint. For legitimate issues, let your guests know that you’ll be reaching out to them directly so that you can better understand what they weren’t happy with and how you intend to fix it. This personal contact may have the happy benefit of the guest changing their review or taking it down.
While it’s never a happy feeling to see a one-star review for your property, there won’t be much you can do for those complaints about items you can’t fix or for any erroneous claims. For bogus complaints, you may want to consider offering some facts on the matter to give future guests some insight as to the quality of the review. For example:
“Thank you for your feedback, although we’re very sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your stay. After reading your review, we checked with our cleaning crew and they confirmed that there are, in fact, towels in the condo. Please contact us directly so we can better understand what negatively affected your stay.”
Regardless of the nature of the complaint, always take the high ground. Most future guests will be able to spot bogus negative reviews and will give little value to reviews that cite issues over which you have no control.
How Do You Get Good Reviews?
The best way you can ensure that your vacation rental gets good reviews is by providing top-notch customer service as well as great vacation accommodations. You don’t need to have your vacation home or condo decked out with all the luxurious touches, but take a thoughtful approach to furnishings, decor, and other items like kitchenware and entertainment options. Consider the type of service and amenities you like to enjoy while you’re on vacation and go from there. When you strive to provide a great experience for your guests, you’ll be rewarded with good reviews.
Do You Need Help With Your Vacation Rental Website?
The team at Vacation Rental Marketers is here to help you whether you need a full-service marketing package or you’d just like a free consultation. Feel free to give us a call at (720) 336-3939 or contact us online.